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Alan Friedman on Photographing the Sun

Alan Friedman, Solar Photographer. (Click to play)

Alan Friedman, Solar Photographer. (Click to play)

I’ve featured many of Alan Friedman’s amazing photos of the Sun here on Lights in the Dark, starting from the very first one I came across via the venerable Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) in November 2009. I’ve even featured Alan’s work in several articles I’ve written for National Geographic NewsDiscovery News, and Universe Today. Alan runs an independent greeting card print shop in Buffalo, NY, and in his spare time likes to collect vintage hats, travel, do some astrophotography, and oh yeah, also take the most un-freakin’-believable photos of our home star in hydrogen alpha light from his own backyard.

(I hope you didn’t miss that part about the Sun.)

Photo of the Sun by Alan Friedman

Photo of the Sun by Alan Friedman (All rights reserved. Used with permission.)

Every year the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England holds a contest for best astrophotography, and this year they visited three of the entrants to get the stories behind their photos. While it looks like Alan didn’t win a grand prize this year (but he did take second) the video above shows how — and why — he makes his photos.

“The coolest thing about the Sun for me as the subject for photography is it’s never the same two days in a row. And it’s the only star we can see detail on, at least with current technology.”

– Alan Friedman

It’s quite a beautiful video, and makes you feel like you’re a guest at Alan’s home looking up through his telescope along with him and his family.

You can find some images of Alan’s I’ve shared on Lights In The Dark here, and see more of Alan’s work on his Averted Imagination blog here.

Currently Alan’s sun photography is on display at the Orange County Great Park Gallery in Irvine, CA Thursdays through Sundays from Sept. 15 to Dec. 1. If you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to check it out. Admission is free.

Video credit: Royal Observatory Greenwich/ Lonelyleap


A Backyard View of a Solar Prominence

Hydrogen-alpha photo of the Sun by Alan Friedman

An enormous tree-shaped prominence spreads its “branches” tens of thousands of miles above the Sun’s photosphere in this image, a section of a photo acquired in hydrogen alpha (Ha) by Alan Friedman last week from his backyard in Buffalo, NY. Writes Alan on his blog, “gotta love a sunny day in November!”

Check out the full image — along with an idea of just how big this “tree” actually is — here.

Coolest. Sun Pic. Ever.

Alan Friedman does it again — and this time with a brand new camera! — in his latest photo of our home star, guaranteed to blow your mind. Check out the full image here.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

Solar Nirvana

The Sun in hydrogen-alpha on Nov. 6. © Alan Freidman.

Hot off the presses, here’s a stunning full-disc solar photo by the inimitable Alan Friedman, taken on November 6, 2011 from his location in Buffalo, NY. Absolutely gorgeous!

The enormous sunspot region AR 1339 can be seen just right of the center of the Sun. It’s nearly 17 times wider than Earth!

Hydrogen alpha (Ha) is a specific wavelength of light (656.28nm) emitted by hydrogen atoms. By filtering for just this wavelength of light, details of the Sun’s photosphere can be made out whereas otherwise they’d be lost in the glare of our home star.

Alan uses a special telescope and camera mount to capture his amazing images. See more photos – and order large-scale art prints of them – on his site

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved. 



Sun Pass

The ISS crosses the disk of the Sun. Click for full-size version. © Alan Friedman.

Astronomy hobbyist and solar photographer extraordinaire Alan Friedman captured a wonderful image of the International Space Station transiting the edge of the Sun’s disc during a Winter Star Party in Florida on March 1, 2011. Taken with a solar telescope that images the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, the image above clearly shows the ISS with solar panels outstretched – as well as the space shuttle Discovery docked in its lower center! Fantastic!

But this was no chance snapshot…precision timing and positioning were required. Alan explains:

“I was scheduled to give my talk 12:30-1:30 – the transit centerline was 69 minutes later, 20 miles to the north on Marathon.With help from Brian Shelton and Mark Beale, I finished my talk, jumped into the car with solar imaging gear and we got set up just in time to catch it. I underestimated the narrowness of this event. We were about 5000 feet south of the centerline in a good location… another 500 feet and we would have missed it entirely. Lucky day!”

– Alan Friedman

Lucky, perhaps, but a less-skilled photographer might have missed the shot entirely! Don’t sell yourself short, Mr. Friedman. 🙂

The dark silhouette of Discovery is visible at the center of the ISS

To think…the ISS is 220 miles above the Earth, the Sun 93 million miles further. And here they are together in perfect focus. Talk about from here to infinity!

Alan’s images have been frequently featured on as well as, the Huffington Post,  several installments of Astronomy Picture of the Day…and, of course, here on Lights in the Dark! (And lots more places too.) You can see another solar image by Alan taken during the Winter Star Party here.

Be sure to check out Alan’s astrophotography site for more great images and fine art prints of his photos available to order!

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

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